An Illinois public interest group and its affiliates across the country launched a nationwide campaign Tuesday urging Subway to serve only antibiotic-free meat and poultry at its sandwich shops.
Specifically, the Illinois Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) is calling on Subway to "stop using meat raised with the routine use of antibiotics."
Illinois PIRG canvassers promoted the public interest group's "Subway: Go Antibiotic-Free" campaign late Tuesday morning at a Chicago Subway restaurant at 319 S. Jefferson St.
Outside the Subway location, Illinois PIRG volunteers and interns distributed flyers and asked passersby to pose for photos with signs reading, "I was craving a sub, but I wanted meat raised without antibiotics."
Consumer rights advocates and health professionals are calling on the Obama administration to restrict the use of antibiotics on healthy factory farm animals, saying the “overuse and misuse” of antibiotics generates bacteria that are resistant to one or more classes of drugs.
“Bacteria is getting resistant to these antibiotics they’re using at factory farms, and the bacteria is then being passed to our community through the air we breathe, through water, through animal waste and through the food we eat,” said Dev Gowda, of the consumer advocacy group, Illinois PIRG. “President Obama and the FDA need to take action and essentially save antibiotics for future generations.”
Eating less meat or none at all has the potential to significantly shrink an individual's diet-related carbon footprint and "can make a valuable contribution to climate change mitigation,"according to a recent study published in the journal Climatic Change.
The study examined the diets of 29,589 meat eaters, 15,751 vegetarians, 8,123 pescatarians (vegetarians who eat fish) and 2,041 vegans between the ages of 20 to 79 in the United Kingdom. Participants took a "food-frequency questionnaire" asking how often in the last year they consumed 130 different food items. Researchers were able to estimate the greenhouse gas emissions, which trap heat and warm up the planet, associated with the various foods.
The "Wasting Our Waterways" report ranks Illinois as the 13th worst U.S. state for the total volume of toxic industrial releases to waterways.
At the national level, polluting facilities dumped 206 million pounds of harmful chemicals into American waterways in 2012, according to the report. And some 8.39 million pounds of toxic pollution were discharged into the Great Lakes watershed. Ammonia, chromium and lead are among the chemicals released into Illinois' waterways, according to the report.
Factory farms are one of the leading causes of pollution in Illinois’ rivers and lakes, according to a group of environmental activists who called on the state to impose stricter regulations—and even a moratorium—on industrial livestock production.
“Clean water is critical to the environment, to public health, and to the quality of life in Illinois. Factory farms seriously threaten the health of our waterways,” said Lisa Nikodem, campaign director for Environment Illinois Research and Education Center.
Environment Illinois joined organic farmers Wednesday morning at the Heartland Café, located at 7000 N. Glenwood Ave. in Chicago, to put a spotlight on water pollution caused by the large-scale release of animal waste at concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), commonly called factory farms.
Two local groups have voiced their displeasure with U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk's (R-IL) votes on the nominations of Mel Watt for the head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) and Gina McCarthy for the job of administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
If lawmakers are interested in cutting costs during the
2013 reauthorization of the farm bill, they should reduce wasteful
spending on subsidies that support processed food additives and already
profitable agribusiness corporations, according to members of the
consumer advocacy group, U.S. PIRG.
“The way our subsidies are
distributed right now is a strong example of how skewed our system is,”
said Dani Neuharth-Keusch, assistant community outreach director for Illinois PIRG, who spoke at a press conference Tuesday to release the nationwide research group’s new report, “Apples to Twinkies 2013.”
Federally subsidized crop insurance is intended to help farmers manage
the risk inherent to their business. According to the report, the
current farm bill, enacted in 2008, fails to “appropriately direct
federal dollars” with subsidies that “mirror a pattern of special
“We need to push back against subsidies
skewed toward big agribusiness and inadequate subsides for fresh
produce,” said Neuharth-Keusch.